Lakers rumors: Three ways LA can still make playoffs

Dec 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lou Williams (23) warms up before the start of their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 113-80. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lou Williams (23) warms up before the start of their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 113-80. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The latest Lakers rumors address the scenarios where they can actually get to the playoffs.

Call it a crazy idea, but it still has a chance of happening.

As of writing this article, the Lakers have won 17 games this season.

It’s as many as they won in all of last season, with plenty of room to run.

The bad part is that we’ve played 53 games.

Also, the Lakers are in a virtual tie with the Phoenix Suns for dead last in the Western Conference.

Denver currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot, but even they are six games below .500.

In order for the Lakers to overcome where they’re at right now, they’ll have to take down a six and a half game deficit.

On top of all of that, there’s five teams between them and Denver trying to get in as well.

It’s not likely, but it’s not impossible — here’s three ways it could happen.

Jan 31, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton argues a foul call during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 31, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton argues a foul call during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Aggressive coaching

Letting the Lakers just be themselves isn’t going to fly with everyone forever.

Admittedly, Luke Walton has been the majority of the obvious missing link for Los Angeles. He’s given them confidence in themselves and as a result the chemistry seems to be on another level.

At least from the outside looking in.

However, one thing that Byron Scott did do better than Luke Walton is be hard on his players.

Scott was arguably too tough, especially on D’Angelo Russell, but there’s a fine line between that approach and the more lax approach that Walton applies.

If someone isn’t producing on the floor, whether off the bench or in the starting lineup, Walton needs to be sure to handle it appropriately and consistently.

During Scott’s tenure, nothing could’ve been more obvious than the favor handed to Kobe Bryant.

Walton can’t afford to be playing favorites.

Giving minutes to players making a difference for the team is what needs to be their first priority.

December 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against the New York Knicks during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

December 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against the New York Knicks during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Taking advantage of their schedule

Playing on the road a lot makes things even more difficult for them.

Thankfully, most of that gets taken care of in February.

When the calendar goes into March, the Lakers have a chance to seriously turn things around.

While there are still going to be a number of road games, they’ll spend more time than before at Staples Center.

This will include a six game home stand over the course of eleven days.

In that span, the Lakers will host the Bucks, Cavs, Clippers, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, and Wizards.

Not the easiest lineup, but this team has been a different story with the home crowd behind them.

All of these teams are trying to make noise in the playoff race.

No games in this home stand may be more important than the ones against Minnesota and Portland.

Both of those teams are directly ahead of them in the standings, with the Trail Blazers being the best of the bunch.

Blast through that part of the schedule, and we’ve got a heck of a race to the finish.

Dec 30, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) is guarded by Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Chicago 111-101. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) is guarded by Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Chicago 111-101. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Trading for a superstar

The Lakers have yet to land their next big name in the post-Bryant era.

Trusting a young core is great and all, but the other question that comes to mind is how long the fans will be willing to wait.

Adding Magic Johnson to the team in an advisory capacity means that he’ll now get to have a say in the team’s decisions.

Johnson has been quoted as saying the Lakers just a “superstar away” from getting on the same level as Golden State and San Antonio.

If that’s not saying a lot, I’m not sure what is.

What this does mean though is that the young core would likely get blown up in part, if not more.

Players like Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell would be attractive trade targets for the right team. Also, when you consider the Lakers could make a major trade and still not have it work out, that means they’ll likely get a top three draft pick.

Throw in a fresh out of college point guard with what the team has at other positions and that could be the set up that gets them into the playoffs not just this year, but long term.

Jan 31, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) and Los Angeles Lakers former player Magic Johnson talk before the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 31, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) and Los Angeles Lakers former player Magic Johnson talk before the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes the best way to fix a bad situation like what the Lakers are in is to take the time to look in the mirror. Once they can figure out the biggest problem, a solution can be better addressed.

Moving Magic Johnson back into an important role with the team is the x-factor moving forward. As much as he’s spoken on the potential D’Angelo Russell has, there’s just as much room to believe he could want to work with a new star out of the draft.

The upcoming draft class has the potential to be point guard heavy, especially with names like Lonzo Ball out of UCLA.

Whether or not any of these situations will come to fruition will only be told as the season goes on.

But it never hurts to be optimistic, right?

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